history, research, teaching


My new project, “‘The Burden is Heavy, We Need the Men’: Gendered Knowledge in theNew Age, 1950-08-27 1959 Rebellions in South Africa,” examines the gendered nature of ethnicity and anti-apartheid resistance in 1950s South Africa. The project considers how women used knowledge about Zulu masculinity and the “patchwork of patriarchies” under which they lived as discourses to inform tactical interventions in rural struggles. Examining women’s motivations and strategies is significant because it reveals how gender and ethnicity shape the availability of violence as a political tactic and situates women at the forefront of violent actions that prompted liberation organizations to rethink tactics in the 1950s and early 1960s.

2017-07-13 kelly_jkt_mock_up


My first book, To Swim with Crocodiles: Land, Violence, and Belonging in South Africa, 1800-1996 (Michigan State University Press, 2018 and University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, forthcoming 2019), shows how Africans in the Table Mountain region of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, drew on the cultural inheritance of ukukhonza—a practice of affiliation that binds together chiefs and subjects—to seek social and physical security in times of war and upheaval. Grounded in a rich combination of archival sources and oral interviews, this book examines relations within and between chiefdoms to bring wider concerns of African studies into focus, including land, violence, chieftaincy, ethnic and nationalist politics, and development.


The newly renamed and misspelled Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo Road to Table Mountain, 2011

The newly renamed and misspelled Chief Mhlabunzima Maphumulo Road to Table Mountain, 2011

Inkosi Mhlabunzima Maphumulo

Inkosi Mhlabunzima Maphumulo, 1949-1991


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